Aardvark. As good a word to start with as any, but there are no aardvarks on Koh Chang.
Acupressure. The effective, low cost cure all is available at Sima Massage, Klong Prao. (Near Chang Chutiman elephant camp and the turning for Tropicana) I haven’t had it done to me as I tend to steer clear of quacks and voodoo medicine but a few people who’ve stayed at our place have been there and swear by it.
Aerial Photography. Rather than pay someone to take aerial photos, you can now do it yourself. Head to Klong Prao Airstrip, just south of the waterfall turning, and talk to Captain Nimit, and he’ll take you up in an ultralight – a two seat hang glider with a large fan motor stuck on the back or a small two person fixed wing plane, also with a large fan on the back. You’ll be safe enough he’s been flying these planes for over 15 years. Prices from 1,700 baht for a 15 minute flight. Flights were intermittent in 2008-10 high season but should be available on a more regular basis in 2010-11
Aerobics. Visitors to welcome to join the daily aerobics sessions that take place every evening from 6-7pm at Koh Chang Tennis Club in Klong Prao village. Don your lycra and join the ladies for a less than strenuous workout.
Airport. The nearest airport is Bangkok Airway’s private landing strip in Trat which was built for holidaymakers for whom the 5-hour bus journey from Bangkok would be too time consuming and affords far too many opportunities for coming in contact with the poor. Bangkok Airways Trat customer call service centre/office/ticket booth can apparently be reached on 039 525 299-30 providing someone’s home and you don’t call at lunchtime or when there’s an interesting game show on TV. First time visitors have reported being a bit alarmed when the plane lands then does a U-turn and starts taxing back along the runway it just landed on but fear not, there are only a handful of flights per day. In high season there are four scheduled flights per day each way. in reality, Bangkok Airways has a penchant for cancelling flights, even in high season so bank on two per day for sure, possibly three and at peak season four. New for 2010-11 are direct flights from Samui and Phuket to Trat which are scheduled to begin in early December.
Apartments. If you’re looking to stay long term there are a couple of apartment blocks. One is in Pearl Beach, tucked down a very bumpy access road that leads from the mainroad to ‘Saffron on the Sea’ bungalows. Rooms on four floors, but rather poky and more like little concrete prison cells. But cheap, quiet spot and only 5 minutes to White Sand or Klong Prao beaches. A better bet is VJ Apartments in VJ Plaza, Klong Prao. Around 90 rooms at the rear of a rather uninspiring shopping plaza, the grace being a well stocked supermarket. Around 4 or 5,000 baht/month high season with no deposit to pay. It’s a bit dark & dingy and the places tends to attract a mix of aging expats saving their beer money and Thai staff from banks, the international clinic etc. At the south end of White Sand Beach, Paddy’s Palms ‘Resort’ has apartments for rent behind the Irish pub on a long term basis and if staying 200 metres from the beer bars on white Sand beach is just too far , then there’s a pretty shitty apartment block right behind the bars themselves. Good if you’re a hardcore whoremonger who plans on spending months on end commuting from your room to the bar and back on a daily basis, yet don’t want to walk more then 30 metres in one stretch.
ATMs. There are now ATMs pretty much everywhere along the west coast – in Klong Son, White Sand Beach, Klong Prao, Kai Bae, Lonely Beach and several all within 20 metres of each other in Bangbao. But you won’t find many on the East Coast of the island yet. What’s more, most of the ATMs actually work very well. They all take, and will usually return, overseas issued credit cards and global ATM cards i.e. any card bearing a ‘Cirrus’ or ‘Plus’ logo. As of May 2009, there’s a 150 baht fee for using an overseas issued credit/debit card in a Thai ATM. A common problem is that you find that you are limited to withdrawing a relatively small amount when using an ATM here. The problem seems to almost always lie with your bank back home, rather than the Thai bank. Therefore, check and double check that your bank knows you are coming to Thailand and will use ATMs and you shouldn’t have to make lengthy international calls to a call centre in Mumbai to resolve the problem.
ATVs. Great fun if you’ve got acres of rugged farmland on which to play but a liability if you’re using them on the road, as a few locals with a bit of cash seem to do. Personally, I don’t see the point in buying a 250cc machine for the cost of a small pick-up truck, which does 30 mph on the flat and then having nowhere to use it. The 2007-08 high season saw a boom in ATV rental places on the island. 2008-09 saw realism kick in and one survived in Chai Chet,, at the north end of Klong Prao beach. You’ll see the ATVs and offroad buggies, parked by the roadside which can be rented for guided rides of the trails which take you onto the peninsula and up a hilltop for some amazing views. Prices are from around 500 baht and go up to 1,700 depending on type of ATV and how long you want to ride for.
If you’ve got teenage sons then this is about as much fun as they can have on the island – unless you want to hit the bars nearby the ATV place and get them a hooker as an early 18th birthday gift. If you can’t decide which is most suitable, simply do both. The girls are cheaper if expense is a consideration.
You’ll also still find a couple of bars & restaurants renting out ATVs. Avoid them as ATVs aren’t road legal in Thailand. (It may appear cool to be seen scooting around on them but as they aren’t allowed on roads, they don’t have insurance, so guess who gets all the bills if you have an accident.)